We are not born perfect (even though our parents may think so!), and there is very little evidence to show that we are born perfectionists.
Perfectionism is something we learn through our environment, and there can be many reasons, including positive reinforcement, praise, high expectations, or critical evaluations from our parents. It affects the way we view ourselves, others, and the world. Perfectionists have had experiences that lead them to develop a view of the world that encourages pursuing unrelenting high standards.
If you find yourself under constant stress to reach high standards, then you might be at a point where “Perfectionism” is no longer serving you but making your life miserable.
Pursuing unrealistic standards can significantly impact your well-being, leading to frustration, worry, social isolation, depression, and a persistent sense of failure.
But things don’t have to stay this way!
Here are five tips to reduce the stress and anxiety caused by Perfectionist thinking:
1 – Be aware, be very aware of your negative thoughts when you make a mistake, and question if those thoughts are rational. Perfectionists are often very critical of themselves. Even the slightest mistake is acceptable. For example, there may be one spelling mistake in a report you spent hours on before delivering, but the rest is spotless. You will likely only focus on that one mistake, and beat yourself up the rest of the day, even if no one else may have noticed. It may be hard to accept making mistakes, but you are only human, just like 7.9 billion others. Today, choose to focus on all the good things you are doing.
2 – Would you speak to your best friend the way you speak to yourself? Would you call them “useless” or “failure?”. We are usually so caring and compassionate towards our family, friends, or even strangers; however, most perfectionists forget to be kind to themselves. If your best friends made a mistake, would you call them “useless” or tell them they were a failure? Most likely not. Today, choose to be your own best friend.
3 – Is it possible that you might be catastrophising and blowing things out of proportion even though the problem can be pretty small? What is the worst thing that can happen? So you are 5 minutes late to a meeting, or the client asked for some changes on the project you have made; perhaps your team did not complete the work to your standards. What is the worst thing that can happen, and if that happens, then what? Today, choose to believe that you can handle whatever happens.
4 – Is it possible that you might assume that you know what others are thinking about you, especially in certain situations? The perfectionist often believes that others think you are not good enough and that they are harshly judgemental. Are these really their thoughts or your own? Do you have hard evidence that this is what they are thinking? Today, choose to believe that you are likeable.
5 – Remember, you are defined by many of the values that you hold. Re-visit them; family, work, parenthood, health, marriage/relationship, community, religion, friendship, and check. Do you live in line with your values, or are they out of balance? For example, your family may have the highest value you hold, but due to other duties, you may not pay any attention to them or spend time with them. When we do not live in balance with our values, our emotions also get out of balance. Today, choose to make time for something or someone that matters to you.
If you feel your perfectionist beliefs are getting in the way and causing you anxiety, it is ok to seek help. It is possible to learn how to take control of your thoughts and feelings, break free from negative patterns, and make profound changes so that you rediscover your confidence and live the life you want.
My IAPC&M Accredited Signature Programme “Overcome Perfectionism and Take Control of Your Life” has successfully helped countless amount of people overcome their fear of failure, anxiety and frustration, so they can gain mastery of their minds, build confidence, and feel more empowered to live happier lives.
Watch Dawn Campbell’s interview with Aylin Webb here:
Aylin Webb – Cognitive Behavioural & EMDR Therapist, Perfectionism Coach, NLP Practitioner and Self-Compassion & Mindfulness Advocate
Aylin helps women from all stages of life to conquer their self-doubt and reclaim their lost self-esteem. Her goal is to help others foster relationships with themselves and discover inner strengths to lead a more fulfilled and happier life.